Oct 26, 2008

Silicon Valley Legends Tackle Internet Switching

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley may be pressed by the economic climate, but at least one Valley legend has made his reputation -- and a sizeable fortune -- by zigging when everyone else is zagging. And it looks as though he is doing it again.

Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA) and an early investor in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), is once again putting his large brain to work on the hardware that makes the Web run.

Bechtolsheim has just announced that he is leaving Sun -- where he has been chief systems architect ever since the company bought his last startup in 2004 -- to focus on an Ethernet hardware maker known as Arista Networks Inc. The company's main product is a 10-Gigabit switch, which puts it in direct competition with networking-equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), as well as a couple of smaller players.

If you're going to go up against a company like Cisco, it helps to have someone who knows the opponent on your side. Arista has just that: The company's new CEO is Jayshree Ullal, the former head of Cisco's corporate data center unit and an engineer with a background in highspeed Ethernet switches. (She wrote about her new job here.)

The company's new chief scientist is Stanford University computer-science professor David Cheriton, who has been involved in two previous startups with Bechtolsheim and was also an early backer of Google.

According to a report in The New York Times, Cheriton and Bechtolsheim are financing the company themselves -- which probably isn't surprising, considering each has a net worth that is estimated in the billions.

Cheriton, a Canadian, helped to connect Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with the venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers , while Bechtolsheim provided the very first $100,000 angel investment to Google, at a time when the company was still based in a garage and hadn't even been legally incorporated.

Bechtolsheim and Cheriton co-founded two other networking equipment companies that were later acquired: Gigabit Ethernet company Granite Systems was bought by Cisco for $220 million in 1996, and Kealia was acquired by Sun in 2004 for an undisclosed sum.

Although Arista is a hardware maker, Bechtolsheim has said the company has an edge over other high-speed networking equipment providers in the software that runs the switch. The Sun co-founder says too many switches use what amounts to slow, outdated software routines that don't take advantage of the speeds available within a network. He says they also don't allow for rapid prototyping and customization the way most Web-programming software does.

Arista touts its systems as more easily updatable, and the firm says it will even offer users a form of open API that will allow them to add their own features. Arista is also reportedly aiming to price its wares lower than its competitors.

As venture capitalists and investors of all kinds question the benefits of pure Web 2.0 services -- the ones that have managed to survive until now despite a lack of a revenue model, based on the "build it and they will come" philosophy -- it's likely that many of them will turn toward solutions that are rooted in hardware, as Arista's is. The benefits of a faster switch are not only more tangible, but more immediately obvious for companies that spend millions on their networks.

As usual, Andy Bechtolsheim is ahead of the curve.

Written by Mathew Ingram

Oct 10, 2008

World's Fastest Cars


Ultima GTR

9.9secs @143mph

Bugatti Veyron


Ferrari Enzo


Porsche Carrera GT


McLaren F1


Saleen S7


Porsche Ruf R Turbo


Lamborghini Murcielago


Ford GT40


Lamborghini Gallardo


Porsche 996 Turbo


Porsche 911 GT3


Ferrari 360


Corvette C5


Honda NSX


Porsche Boxster S


Oct 7, 2008

Top 100 Hotels of 2007 from travelandleisure.com

Top 100 Hotels of 2007 from travelandleisure.com

Asian hotels have consistently received high marks, but this year, for the first time, an Indian property—Oberoi Udaivilas—has grabbed the No. 1 spot. The Udaipur property also tops our lists for best small hotel and best hotel in Asia.

Top 100 Hotels Overall

Rank 2006 Name Score
1 3Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India 94.36
2 1Singita Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa94.30
3 9The Oriental, Bangkok 94.23
4 48Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet93.55
5n/aMilestone Hotel, London93.06
6n/aRelais Il Falconiere, Cortona, Italy92.97
7 97Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa 92.81
8n/aMandarin Oriental, Munich 92.73
9 12Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii 92.65
10 54Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India 92.56
11 6Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India 92.50
12 4The Peninsula, Bangkok92.41
13 18Château Les Crayères, Reims, France 92.39
14n/aJumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort, Antigua92.24
15 14Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest 92.15
16 24Mombo Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana 92.08
18n/aFour Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza92.00
19 11Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand 91.90
20 52Cape Grace, Cape Town 91.52
21 32MalaMala Game Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa91.38
22 27Ladera, St. Lucia 91.34
23 28La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo, Mexico 91.28
24 35Kichwa Tembo, Masai Mara, Kenya 91.25
25n/aLe Sirenuse, Positano, Italy 91.18
26n/aNgorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania 91.11
27n/aWoodlands Resort & Inn, Summerville, South Carolina91.09
28 43Four Seasons Hotel, Prague 91.07
29 69Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris 91.05
30n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Amman, Jordan 90.95
31n/a41, London90.68
32n/aPost Hotel & Spa, Lake Louise, Alberta 90.61
33n/aRitz-Carlton, Millenia, Singapore90.59
34n/aThe Strand, Yangon, Myanmar 90.56

35n/aSweetwaters Tented Camp, Sweetwaters Game Reserve, Kenya90.50
36n/aBlantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts 90.43
37 20The Peninsula, Hong Kong 90.37
38 19Halekulani, Honolulu90.29
39n/aLondolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa 90.19
40 60Raffles Hotel, Singapore 90.15
41n/aFour Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence, Cairo90.14
42 78Four Seasons Hotel, Buenos Aires 90.12
43n/aSanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina 90.07
44n/aTortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park, Kenya90.00
45 57The Peninsula, Beverly Hills 89.99
46n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Bangkok89.93
47 39Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 89.92
48n/aFairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya89.87
49n/aJamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica 89.78
50 91Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea89.72
51n/aEsperanza, Los Cabos, Mexico 89.68
52n/aIl Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy89.64
53n/aPlanters Inn, Charleston, South Carolina89.64
54n/aInn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, California 89.63
55 37Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyoming 89.50
56n/aJao Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana89.47
57n/aHôtel d'Europe, Avignon, France89.42
58 38Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand 89.38
59n/aChâteau de la Chèvre d’Or, Èze Village, France89.35
60 44Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele89.29
61n/aTable Bay Hotel, Cape Town 89.23
62n/aHôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo 89.14
63n/aMadrona Manor, Healdsburg, California 89.09
64n/aLa Bastide de Moustiers, Moustiers-Ste.-Marie, France 89.04
65n/aDomaine des Hauts de Loire, Onzain, France 89.00
65n/aLe Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa89.00
67n/aHôtel du Cap Eden-Roc, Antibes, France88.89
68 25Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, Chile 88.86
69n/aMalliouhana Hotel & Spa, Anguilla 88.86
70n/aFour Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
*Formerly Manele Bay Hotel, Lanai
71 5Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay88.83
72n/aIl San Pietro, Positano, Italy88.82
73n/aHotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, St. Bart’s 88.81
74n/aEden Rock, St. Bart’s 88.70
75n/aThe Westcliff, Johannesburg88.68
76 82Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee 88.62
77n/aFullerton Hotel, Singapore 88.61
78n/aRitz-Carlton, Istanbul88.60
79n/aShangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei 88.59
80n/aBeau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland 88.57
80n/aWillows Lodge, Woodinville, Washington88.57
82 10Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India 88.55
83n/aHorned Dorset Primavera, Rincón, Puerto Rico88.54
84n/aAuberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City88.52
85 34Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong 88.50
86 59The Peninsula, Chicago 88.38
87n/aBernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, California 88.37
88100One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico 88.32
89n/aShangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 88.28
90 29Hotel Villa Cipriani, Asolo, Italy 88.27
91 51Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore 88.24
92n/aHotel Hassler, Rome88.18
93n/aGleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Scotland88.18
94n/aKatikies Hotel, Santorini, Greece88.17
95n/aRitz-Carlton, Berlin88.17
96n/aFour Seasons Resort, Nevis 88.10
97n/aFour Seasons Hotel, Shanghai 88.08
98 63Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago 88.03
99n/aMount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town 87.94
100n/aGravetye Manor Hotel, West Sussex, England87.92

Oct 5, 2008

The 53 Places to Go in 2008

New York Times has published the best 53 places to visit in 2008. Here 20 places are mentioned. If you want to see all the selected places and read the full article click here
Vietnam and Cambodia are so 2007. Now, Laos is shaping up to be Indochina's next hot spot. Ancient sites like the Wat Phou temple complex and the capital city of Vientiane are drawing culture seekers. Luxury teak houseboats are cruising down the Mekong. And global nomads are heading to Luang Prabang to sample the Laotian tasting menu at 3 Nagas (http://www.3nagas.com/) or hang out by the infinity pool at the seriously upscale Résidence Phou Vao (http://www.residencephouvao.com/).
Bargain-seeking tourists have long flocked to Lisbon, typically among the most affordable of European cities. But now the Portuguese capital is also emerging as a cultural force. The new Berardo Collection Museum (http://www.berardocollection.com/), in the historic Belem district, boasts a major trove of modern and contemporary art. Designer hotels like Fontana Park (http://www.fontanaparkhotel.com/) and Jerónimos 8 (http://www.almeidahotels.com/) are attracting style-savvy travelers. And the Design and Fashion Museum, scheduled to open in late 2008, will go a long way toward cementing the city's avant-garde status.
Tunisia is undergoing a Morocco-like luxury makeover. A new wave of stylish boutique hotels, often in historic town houses, has cropped up alongside this North African country's white-sand beaches and age-old medinas, drawing increasing numbers of well-heeled travelers. The Villa Didon (http://www.villadidon.com/) in Carthage, for one, has a restaurant originally run by Alain Ducasse. Indeed, TripAdvisor ranks Jerba, a resort island off Tunisia's southern coast, as the No. 1 emerging spot in 2008.
Flying to the sugar-white shores of Mauritius is about to get easier. Virgin Atlantic just began nonstop flights from London to this tiny coral-ringed island off the coast of Madagascar, and it also recently became a hub port for Indian Ocean excursions by the Italy-based Costa Cruises. Meanwhile, new hotels are opening up, including a Four Seasons resort, Anahita Mauritius (http://www.anahitamauritius.com/), that features four restaurants, three beaches and an ayurveda spa.
Move over South Beach. The iconic Eden Roc Resort (http://www.edenrocresort.com/) and Fontainebleau Miami Beach (http://www.fontainebleau.com/) — faded glitterati hangouts designed by Morris Lapidus — will reopen in 2008 after multimillion-dollar renovations, returning Mid-Beach to its former glory. Future neighbors include Gansevoort South, a W Hotel and a Mid-Beach outpost of the members-only Soho House.
Not to be outdone, South Beach will also welcome a red carpet of designer hotels: the Angler's Boutique Resort (http://www.theanglersresort.com/) by Gianni Versace's former decorator Wallace Tutt; the Tides South Beach (http://www.tidessouthbeach.com/), revamped by the design star Kelly Wearstler; and the Mondrian South Beach (http://www.mondriansouthbeach.com/) by the Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders. Meanwhile, Nicky Hilton's much-hyped dreams of running a hotel has ended up in bankruptcy court — and the auction block.
The 2004 tsunami, a fragile ecology and a recent bombing have done little to dampen a hotel boom in this island-nation of about 1,192 coral islets in the Indian Ocean. Among the high-end hotels expected to open next year is a Regent Hotels & Resorts (http://www.regenthotels.com/) with 50 villas, many set over the water, allowing guests to observe the rich marine life while still lying in bed.
It's too early to predict, but recent heavy rains have some flower bloggers already speculating about a dazzling spring bloom in Death Valley next year. Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 species of wildflower, and in that special spring after a wet fall and winter, the brown desert landscape is carpeted with Technicolor fields of blossoms.
The ultra-exclusive French skiing village of Courchevel may be overrun by Russian billionaires these days, but that has only fueled the resort's consumption of Cristal jeroboams and high-ticket hotels. The sumptuous Hotel de Charme Les Airelles (http://www.airelles.fr/) reopens this month following a $31 million renovation, and, late next year, Le Padisha ups the ante with rustic-chic apartments starting at 1.3 million euros, or $1.95 million at $1.50 to the euro.
It's on and off (and on again) for Libya. Four years after the United States government lifted a ban on American travel, this socialist North African nation is going green. The eldest son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, is developing a carbon-neutral resort along the country's pristine Mediterranean coastline, home to stellar Greek and Roman ruins and endangered seals. Luxury hotels and golf courses are planned, as well as a new airport in Tripoli. But red tape remains. Tour operators have canceled trips because of visa holdups, and last month planeloads of European tourists were turned away under an odd rule that requires foreign passports to be translated into Arabic.
11. HVAR
As Croatia's Dalmatian Coast has become a new Riviera, Hvar has become its St.-Tropez: a tiny village that fills with yachts and international partyers over the summer. While the waterfront Carpe Diem (http://www.carpe-diem-hvar.com/) remains the island's night-life center, narrow stone alleys are lined with chic cocktail lounges and hotel terraces, including the rooftop pool at the new Adriana hotel, Croatia's first Leading Small Hotels of the World member (www.suncanihvar.com/adriana).
Maybe it is the lasting memory of the gay icon Elizabeth Taylor's scandalous affair with Richard Burton during his filming of “Night of the Iguana” in the early 60's, but Puerto Vallarta is becoming gayer by the year and is now poised to overtake Acapulco as Mexico's leading gay beach. There are now some dozen gay-friendly hotels (www.gayguidevallarta.com/Lodging/gay.html) and a glut of bars and clubs clustered along the aptly named Zona Romantica.
13. SYLT
With a nickname like the “Hamptons of Germany,” it's only a matter of time before jet-setters discover the North Sea island of Sylt. Known for its nudist beaches, reed-thatched houses and designer stores, the T-shaped island has long been popular with German celebrities, particularly television stars and sports figures. But now getting there is a simple hop from London and a dozen other European cities, thanks to the low-cost carrier Air Berlin.
The verdict is in. The Next Prague is ... Prague. Stag parties have moved on, bohemians have left for cheaper rents, and youth hostels are being squeezed by luxe hotels. Joining a new Mandarin Oriental next year is the Augustine, converted from a monastery and other buildings into a Rocco Forte hotel (prague.roccofortecollection.com), and the just-refurbished Hilton Prague Old Town (http://www.prague-oldtown.hilton.com/), with a buzzing restaurant opened by Gordon Ramsay.
If you've been to Quito, Ecuador, there's a good chance you were heading to the Galápagos. But Quito, the colonial capital perched 9,200 feet up in the Andes, is no longer just a whistle stop. The city's crumbling historic center, one of Latin America's least altered, has been reborn after a seven-year, $200 million renovation. And a crop of upscale hotels has arrived, including a JW Marriott (http://www.marriott.com/), making Quito a glorious new center in the so-called Middle of the World.
There's more to Liverpool than just the Beatles. Next year, this industrial city celebrates its 800th birthday (and its designation as European Capital of Culture), as it trots out everything and everyone, from Turner Prize artists to young emerging bands like the Zutons. But make no mistake: The headliner is Paul McCartney, who is returning to play the “Liverpool Sound” concert at Anfield Stadium on June 1 (http://www.liverpool08.com/).
Wi-Fi beer gardens, lederhosen-wearing hipsters, hybrid Mercedes-Benz taxis. No wonder Monocle magazine recently named Munich the world's most livable city. The Bavarian capital might get shortchanged when compared with Berlin in terms of liberalism and creativity, but Munich has a robust economy that stimulates high fashion, cutting-edge cuisine and cushy living — not to mention a new Jewish Museum (http://www.juedisches-museum.muenchen.de/), 79 years in the making, and a posh new hotel in the heart of the city, the Charles, from hotelier Rocco Forte (http://www.charleshotel.de/).
18. IRAN
What Axis of Evil? Upscale tour operators are tiptoeing into Iran next year, offering trips that explore the ancient country's Persian treasures and olive-green desert plains. Next spring, the luxury cruise liner Silversea will make stops in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on its Dubai to Dubai cruise. And California-based Distant Horizons (http://www.distant-horizons.com/) is organizing two 18-day trips that start in Tehran and then weave through the once-forbidden countryside, including stops in Shiraz and Isfahan. Prices start at $5,390 per person.
All those rolling fields of green. The cypress-lined fairways. It's surprising that there aren't more golf links in Tuscany. For better or worse, a new course has just opened for guests at the Terme di Saturnia resort (http://www.termedisaturnia.it/ ) in southern Tuscany. The nine-hole course covers 247 acres surrounded by wheat, sunflowers, oats and olive groves — that is, until the next nine holes go in.

Just when you thought the Caribbean island of Anguilla couldn't get any fancier, the Kor Hotel Group is opening the Viceroy Anguilla — the latest offshoot of its Viceroy brand (http://www.viceroyanguilla.com/) — in the spring. The hotel will have 172 luxury accommodations, a 15,000-square-foot spa and beach clubs set along 3,200 feet of private waterfront.